By Siddharth Jain, Gastroenterology
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. The condition is either self-limiting or progressive, and may lead to cirrhosis, fibrosis or even liver cancer.
Hepatitis B (HBV)-
Hepatitis B is an acute or chronic liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B Virus. This virus is transmitted through exposure to semen, infective blood and body fluids. The virus can be transferred from the infected mother to a newborn at the time of birth. Transmission is also possible through transfusion of HBV-infected blood or blood products and contaminated needles/injections. You may develop Hepatitis B if you have sexual intercourse with an infected person.
- Vomiting and nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Dark-colored urine
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
Short-term symptoms may be observed from 2-4 months after exposure to HBV, and last for about 6 months.
Hepatitis C (HCV)-
Caused by the Hepatitis C Virus, this disease is mostly transferred through exposure to infectious blood. This usually occurs through transfusion of HCV-infected blood products or blood, contaminated injections and through shared contaminated needles.
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Poor appetite
- Itchy skin
- Unintentional weight loss
- Yellowish discoloration of the eyes and skin
- Swollen legs
Approximately 75-80% of people diagnosed with this virus tend to develop chronic Hepatitis C.
Treatment for Hepatitis-
- Hepatitis B and C can be treated with the help of antiviral medications.
- In case of serious complications developed from chronic Hepatitis B and C, the best option may be liver transplant. This is a surgical procedure where the diseased liver is replaced with a healthier one. The liver is transplanted from either a deceased donor or a living donor. After the transplant, antiviral drugs are prescribed to keep your liver healthy and functional. Many studies have revealed that direct-acting antiviral medications are very effective in curing Hepatitis C post-transplant.
- One preventive measure for Hepatitis B is a HBV vaccine. The first dose is recommended within 24 hours after birth, followed by two or three doses after that. However, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.
- Hepatitis is a common virus. But there are ways to steer away from it. A few precautionary measures can help you avoid coming in contact with the virus. Most of the time it is curable and usually do not lead to serious complications.